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Sporting Bengal United manager Imrul Gazi has been busy building a new squad for the Essex Senior League!

PUBLISHED: 15:30 04 August 2016

Sporting Bengal United manager Imrul Gazi talks to his trialists during pre-season. Pic: Alam Zaman.

Sporting Bengal United manager Imrul Gazi talks to his trialists during pre-season. Pic: Alam Zaman.

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Mile End club will have to wait longer than most to get league campaign underway, but are looking forward to the season

Sporting Bengal United manager Imrul Gazi admits the summer has been hard work for him and his coaches, but he believes the east Londoners can shock people in the Essex Senior League.

The Mile End Stadium club were unable to join local rivals Tower Hamlets in getting their competitive campaign underway last weekend after Haringey & Waltham had to postpone their July 30 fixture.

Bengal instead played a pre-season clash with Sporting Hackney and triumphed 3-1 at Hackney Marshes.

Gazi will take charge of his first official match on Sunday when they host Ipswich Wanderers in the FA Cup extra preliminary round.

He said: “I’m excited and a little bit apprehensive going into my first game, I would’ve liked a competitive clash before.

“It was a shame the Haringey & Waltham fixture had to be cancelled and it has been a big rebuilding process for me this summer as we don’t have a single player from last season.

“They have either moved up to a higher level, some have stayed in our division or others just aren’t interested anymore.

“I had around 80 lads turn up for pre-season and it has been a challenge to get it down to a decent-sized squad.”

Gazi has managed Sporting Bengal under-14s in recent years, but has stepped up to take charge of the first team for the 2016/17 campaign.

Ayas Ali is the new assistant manager at the Mile End club and Arosh Ali, who has worked with the MK Dons youth team in the past, is also part of the new coaching set-up.

With the trio all taking a huge interest in developing young players, Bengal’s manager is looking for several teenagers to impress this season.

“My background is working with young players and making them better so I’m looking to do the same again,” said Gazi.

“We now have a squad of around 32 players, but we are struggling in a few key areas like a goalkeeper and a forward.

“I would’ve liked another two weeks to prepare for the new season so I could work on team shape and some small details, but I have a rough idea of my best 15 to 16 players and I’m looking forward to the start.”

After finishing 12th in the Essex Senior League last year, Bengal will be aiming to improve on that showing.

But they will have to wait until August 27 to play their first game in the division – away to Basildon United.

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